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Saving Forest Ecosystems: A Century Plus of Research and Education at the University of Washington

Sarah Crumrine

Senior, ESRM Program

School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

University of Washington


Saving Forest Ecosystems: A Century Plus of Research and Education at the University of Washington provides a vivid picture of generations of forestry and environmental study at the University of Washington. Through engaging stories about past students and faculty and programs, Edmonds’ book gave me a deeper look into the history of what I call the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS), but was once the College of Forest Resources and before that, the School of Forestry.


Edmonds includes both lyrically-written descriptions and empiric research content on the natural history of Washington forests, the logging boom and bust cycles through the adoption of the Northwest Forest Plan, and different eras of research. He details School of Forestry traditions of the early 1900s which are an entertaining contrast to how higher education presents itself these days, and he brings life to the faculty--Stan Gessel, Dave Scott, and Chadwick Oliver--and their teaching ethos. I also found interest in the descriptions of more contemporary professors and programs, especially those who published the textbooks and research papers I read--Franklin, Brubaker.


The book’s usefulness is dependent on the reader’s objective; I read it cover to cover for the stories and fun facts about the people, buildings, and growth of SEFS, however not everyone--student or faculty in SEFS--desires this level of detail to make use of their time in the school. The book is well organized and follows a logical progression through different aspects of an education system and its evolution over time. Some subtopics are well fleshed out with page-long anecdotes, while others are merely mentioned and summarized as proof that a certain research group or event took place. Thus, an undergraduate could read sections of the book based on what their personal interests are and skip the unrelated parts.


The book contains history of the school I would not have otherwise discovered, including the establishment of the Washington Park Arboretum, and it is covered with great detail, however there are gaps. A less-publicized aspect of the school that nonetheless contributed to my own experience were the internships at Pack Forest and the ONRC. Field study is an integral component to environmental science education, and I think there could have been more discussion of this learning outside of the University. Overall, I enjoyed this book as a peek into how the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences evolved to its present version through the people, places, and events that students might have heard of, but not have familiarity with.


October 5, 2021

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